By Kevin Kelley
City Council passed legislation March 1 to end, for new employees, bonus payments based on the length of employment with the city. Employees who received “longevity” payments this past December will continue to receive those payments, but they will be frozen at the current amount.
The ordinance, which passed by a 6-1 vote, does not affect employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement. Longevity payments have been made to each assistant, department head, and permanent part-time and full-time employee of the various municipal departments.
According to Finance Director Prashant Shah, 228 municipal employees received longevity bonuses last year. The total amount paid out in such bonuses was $365,921.
Shah said $25,675 will be save this year by freezing longevity bonuses.
The longevity payment scale is 1 percent of base pay after five years, 2 percent after seven years, three percent after 10 years, 4 percent after 15 years, and 5 percent after 20 years.
The new legislation originated with council. Council President Mike Killeen said council believes rewarding employees for performance, rather than length of time served, is a better policy.
Job descriptions for city positions include a range of pay, Killeen explained. Higher amounts within the range can be given based on experience and performance, he added.
“We think an automatic increase just for the number of years being here isn’t a good policy,” Killeen told West Life.
Ward 2 Councilman Dennis Sullivan cast the sole vote against the ordinance. But it wasn’t because he thinks the longevity payments should be continued.
Sullivan told West Life he was opposed to grandfathering the bonus payments for employees currently receiving them. He wanted the ordinance to end all longevity payments, he said.
“We give COLA (Cost of Living Adjustments) already,” Sullivan said.
Mayor Dennis Clough said some employees have expressed concern about the ordinance. Clough said he will allow the ordinance to become law without his signature because he receives a longevity bonus. It’s his policy not to sign any legislation affecting his own salary.
Clough, who has been mayor since 1987, said he probably would sign the ordinance if he were not affected by it.